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Doctors urge public not to let guard down as vaccinations ramp-up

'There is still a lot of virus in the community," infectious disease specialist says
Posted at 3:55 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 18:16:13-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As people become vaccinated for COVID-19, there is a concern about the public starting to let their guard down about the virus.

Doctors say it is important for people, even if they have had both vaccination shots, to keep wearing masks and social distancing.

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They point out the two vaccines approved for use by the CDC, Pfizer and Moderna, are about 95 percent effective, still leaving some people exposed to infection.

"We're now seeing some variants, some new strains. … The vaccines may or may not be protected from them, so there is still a lot of virus in the community," Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Dodson said.

Doctors say it also possible vaccinated people can be asymptomatic and possibly spread COVID-19 to non-vaccinated people.

Booking a chance to get the vaccine brought Mitchell Stemmer of Loxahatchee to tears.

"After I got the appointment, I cried ... for me and my wife," Stemmer said.

Mitchell Stemmer of Loxahatchee gets COVID-19 vaccine
Mitchell Stemmer of Loxahatchee said getting an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine brought him to tears.

He said he's not changing his behavior just because he got inoculated.

"We wear a mask everywhere, and I got to tell you, it totally annoys me when I see people not wearing a mask," Stemmer said.

Medical experts say that's exactly what he and others should be doing.

"We do have some people that do feel once they get the shot, they can go back to life as normal. Unfortunately, that's not the case," Dodson said.

It is still unclear if someone who is vaccinated can still spread the virus.

Dr. David Dodson
Dr. David Dodson, an infectious disease specialist in West Palm Beach, says people who get the vaccine still need to wear masks and social distance from others.

"We don't know if somebody who is vaccinated could get infected, not have any symptoms and still spread it, so that's another reason to maintain the masks and social distancing," Dodson said.

It is a reminder that even with a vaccine, there is still a long way to go before life returns to normal.

Stemmer said he won't change anything about his life, even after his second booster shot.

"I'll still feel better about myself being protected, but it's about everybody else too," Stemmer said.

Medical experts say with the slow speed of vaccinations and the COVID-19 variants, mask-wearing could be encouraged for at least the rest of the year.